Will Airlines Require Passengers To Be Vaccinated For COVID-19?

person receiving a vaccine
Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Do you think airlines will require passengers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to fly?

Aviation Week & Space Technology Editor-in-Chief Joe Anselmo and Air Transport and Safety Editor Sean Broderick answer: Mandating something that most people will not have access to for months makes little sense for airlines. They are better off maintaining and further developing protocols that reduce the risk of transmission while vaccines are developed and distributed.

Testing passengers is more complicated. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian believes increased testing could help revive international travel if authorities agree that passengers testing negative do not have to quarantine for two weeks after they reach their destination. “The real value to having testing is to enable quarantine-free flights,” Bastian said on a Nov. 18 Wings Club/Aviation Week webinar. “We’re hoping to open up travel into Europe without a requirement to quarantine. That’s where I think the value of testing is going to be.”

But Bastian, whose airline has regularly tested all of its employees since June, cautions that the domestic U.S. air travel market is simply too big to test every passenger before they fly. “At Delta, domestically we carry about a million people a week,” he says. “There’s only a million people a day that get tested in the United States.” That means mass testing is not going to feasible for domestic purposes.

Joe Anselmo

Joe Anselmo has been Editorial Director of the Aviation Week Network and Editor-in-Chief of Aviation Week & Space Technology since 2013. Based in Washington, D.C., he directs a team of more than two dozen aerospace journalists across the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.